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The Corleone Family
Don Vito Corleone
- A Father to His Men
- Acrofatic - a minor case, but his surprising quickness for his size saves his life during Sollozzo's ambush.
- An Offer You Can't Refuse (Trope Namer)
- Badass Grandpa
- Badass Moustache
- Benevolent Boss
- The Chessmaster
- Decoy Protagonist
- The Don
- Even Evil Has Standards
- Family Values Villain
- Noble Demon - Considering how insular, xenophobic and racist the Sicilian Mafia is, Vito's acceptance of Tom (who is Irish) as a son, even if its not in name, is an exceptionally magnaminous gesture of kindness.
- The Patriarch
- Affably Evil
- Foil: To Michael.
- From Nobody to Nightmare: Started out as a poor Italian immigrant.
- The Ghost: Marlon Brando was supposed to reprise his role as "old" Vito for the 1941 flashback at the end of Part II, but when he failed to turn up for the shoot, the scene was rewritten to keep him offscreen.
- Parental Abandonment: Both of them were killed in Sicily by the local mafia.
- Posthumous Character
The youngest child of the family. He doesn't want to join the family business. When Sollozzo and McCluskey makes another attempt on his father's life, he is forced to join the family business and kills them. He becomes the new Don at the end of the movie. By the second movie, Michael becomes a full-fledged ruthless Don. In the third movie, he strives to stay legitimate, but his past finally catches up. He ultimately fails, with tragic consequences. Played by Al Pacino in all three films.
- Anti-Hero: Initially a heroic character, but by the end of the movie he becomes a Type V.
- Badass: He was a soldier in World War II.
- Badass Bookworm: And an Ivy League graduate.
- Broken Ace
- Byronic Hero
- The Chessmaster
- Even Evil Has Standards: Initially.
- Face Heel Turn
- Good Hair, Evil Hair: A subtle example. At the wedding, his hair is shorter and parted at the side, emphasizing his innocence. After shooting Sollozzo, he never has his hair like this again. When he returns to America, he has his hair slicked back, like the stereotypical mafia don image.
- He Who Fights Monsters - The reason he got into the Corleone family business in the first place was to do his part in protecting his family. But he ends up just as monstrous as his enemies.
- Knight Templar Patriarch - Don't you ever go against the family. It gets even worse in the second movie.
- My Family Right Or Wrong
- Necessarily Evil: Tries to justify himself as this, at least to Kay.
- Sympathetic Murderer
- The Unfettered
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: He claims, and to an extent believes, that he is doing what he does for the sake of his family, and only against those who deserve it. This justification gradually erodes over the course of the movie.
- What the Hell, Hero? - Not even Vito would have gone as far as he did to secure the power of his empire. He gets called out on this twice, by his sister and later by Kay.
- Young Conqueror
- Youngest Child Wins
- Byronic Hero
- Cain and Abel - with Fredo. As the film goes on they swap roles- Fredo becomes less Cain and more Abel, and Michael less Abel and more Cain, then even more Cain still by having Fredo killed.
- Lonely At the Top
- Kiss of Death - after he finds out that Fredo betrayed him
- Motive Decay: It's become less about the welfare of his family and more about the welfare of the family business; and by the end of the film the greatest enemy of Michael's family is clearly Michael himself.
- Pyrrhic Villainy
- Villain Protagonist - Started out pretty heroic in Part I, but he's solidly villainous in Part II.
- Anti-Villain - He desperately tries to do good, going so far as to assure the protection of Pope John Paul I, only to fail.
- The Atoner
- Broken Bird - Michael was clearly seen struggling to hide it throughout the movie. Mary's death finally breaks him.
- Byronic Hero
- Chronic Villainy (Just when I thought I was out...they pull me back in.)
- Dying Alone
- Passing the Torch - to Vincent.
The eldest child of the family and the hothead. Played by James Caan.
- Berserk Button: Hurting his younger sister will earn You a free trip to the emergency room.
- Big Brother Instinct - It ultimately gets him killed.
- Brooklyn Rage
- Bruiser with a Soft Center - In Part I, Sonny is the most violent and hotheaded of the brothers, but most of his violence is directed at those who hurt his family. It's clear that he is very protective of them and hurting them is his Berserk Button. Like Vito, his acceptance of Tom as a brother also shows that he is not as racist as most Sicilian mafioso.
- Dragon-in-Chief - Became acting Don after Vito was shot and wounded.
- Fatal Flaw: Sonny's Hot Bloodedness combined with an overzealous Big Brother Instinct allowed Carlo to lure him to his death
- If You Ever Do Anything to Hurt Her... - what he did to Carlo after beating up Connie.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He's a violent thug who openly cheats on his wife but also a genuinely loving husband, father and brother.
- Kick Them While They Are Down - his death
- Unstoppable Rage
- Wife-Basher Basher - "You touch my sister again and I'll kill ya."
The middle child of the family. He is the stupid one. "Fredo" has now become shorthand for "weak link". Played by John Cazale.
- Badass Decay: In the book only, we are Informed that Fredo was a tough guy who just took his eye off the ball during the attempted assassination of Vito and Decayed after running the Family business in Vegas for a long time. None of this shows up in the movies, where he comes across as an incompetent boob. Given that Fredo's toughness was certainly an informed ability, perhaps that was for the best.
- Bad Liar: He reveals himself as The Mole by pretending in front of Michael that he's never met Johnny Ola and then, hours later at most, blithely shouting that it was Johnny Ola who told him about the sex show. If he ever figures out how he gave it away, we don't see when. An almost comical example happens earlier: in bed with his wife, he answers the phone to have a whispered conversation full of lines like "You guys lied to me!" and then, when she asks who it was, just says, "Wrong number."
- Butt Monkey
- Cain and Abel - with Michael. Ironically, after Michael has Fredo killed Michael remembers how Fredo was the only one who spoke up for Michael's decision to drop out of college and join the Marines.
- Heel Face Turn: He knows he screwed up in betraying Michael to Hyman Roth, and tries to earn forgiveness during the later half of Part II. He's even seen being genuinely kind to his nephew Anthony as the two work on fishing in Lake Tahoe. Unfortunately, Michael is NOT in the mood to forgive anyone this time...
- Henpecked Husband: To Deanna in Part II.
- Kavorka Man: Nowhere near as Badass as Sonny, and definitely not as smart as Michael, but Moe Green complains that he's "banging cocktail waitresses, two at a time". In the novel, it's stated that this fact greatly displeased Don Vito, as the Don was always very straitlaced about sex.
- Lawful Stupid Chaotic Stupid
- The Resenter: Though he never showed any real aptitude for the family business, he gets sick of being treated as a gofer and an errand boy, while his younger brother becomes the Don. This leads him to his ill-fated deal with Hyman Roth.
"Send Fredo off to do this, send Fredo off to do that! Let Fredo take care of some Mickey-Mouse nightclub somewhere! Send Fredo to pick somebody up at the airport! I'm your older brother, Mike, and I was stepped over!"
- The Unfavorite - By the second movie he's developed a complex over this.
- "Well Done, Son" Guy - Tries everything he can to please Michael, but it just doesn't work out.
Vincent "Vinnie" Mancini-Corleone
Sonny's illegitimate son. He is a hothead like his father. Played by Andy Garcia.
The youngest of Michael's children. Played by Sofia Coppola, in a very controversial cast decision, though in truth she was just a last-minute replacement and only took the part reluctantly.
- Daddy's Girl: Boy, does she pay hard for that.
- Kissing Cousins
- Naive Everygirl
- Mafia Princess
- Parental Marriage Veto
- The Other Marty: Sofia Coppola got to play Mary after Winona Ryder dropped out.
An orphaned childhood friend of Sonny´s who gets unofficially adopted by Don Vito. He´s the family´s lawyer and Consigliere.
The Corleone Crime Family
Capo Peter Clemenza
- Acrofatic: Both the book and the film show him as a surprisingly agile dancer at the Corleone wedding.
- Affably Evil: To his friends and associates, Clemenza's regarded as a friendly, jovial kind of guy, always happy to talk and always happy to share his tales of the good old days.
- Big Fun
- The Big Guy: As a Capo of the family, he takes a direct role in controlling the movements of the family soldiers; for good measure, he's occasionally called upon to act as a hitman.
- Boisterous Bruiser
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: Dialogue in the second film implies that he died of a heart attack between movies.
- Fat Bastard: Has a reputation for violent, ruthless tactics in gang wars.
- The Mentor: According to the book, he taught Sonny how to fight and kill, though he was a bit disappointed that Sonny never showed any particular liking for the garotte. In both the film and the book, he also advises Michael on carrying out the killing of Solozzo and McClusky.
- Red Oni: To Tessio's blue.
Capo Salvatore Tessio
- BlueOni: The Blue to Clemenza's red.
- Face Death with Dignity: Once it's clear that he can't talk his way out of his execution, he calmly and willingly steps into the car without another word of protest.
- Lean and Mean
- The Mole
- Nothing Personal: After being discovered as Don Barzini's mole in the Corleone family, he explains that nothing about his betrayal was personal.
- The Smart Guy: Considered the smarter of the two Caporegimes, and usually makes the tactical decisions of the Family soldiers.
Other Crime Bosses
- Affably Evil: In most of his scenes, he comes across as a friendly old man who honestly wants to advise Michael and leave behind something worthwhile for his friends.
- Big Bad: Of Part II.
- The Chessmaster
- Remember the New Guy?
- Big Bad: Of Part III.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing
- The Chessmaster
- The Man Behind the Man
- Not So Harmless
- Remember the New Guy?